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Sunday, 10 May 2020

Could Africa become the next epicenter of the pandemic?

Could Africa become the next epicenter of the pandemic? The continent’s massively underprepared healthcare systems spells a recipe for disaster if an influx of covid-19 cases hit. Between 29-44 mn could be infected and as many as 83-190k die as a result of covid-19 in a single year if no containment measures are taken, a recent WHO Africa study found according to Reuters. Most African countries are taking some form of preventative measures to curb the spread of the virus, but if these precautions aren't taken more seriously and if rapid investments to the continent’s medical facilities — which have about one intensive care bed and one ventilator for every 100k of its inhabitants — aren’t made, many countries would see their healthcare systems quickly overwhelmed.

Equipment, personnel and testing shortages present some of the greatest challenges to containing the virus: Limited covid-19 testing capabilities and a lack of equipment make the prospect of a pandemic in Africa significantly more frightening than it is in wealthier countries with well-equipped healthcare systems. On average one doctor stands to serve 80k people and there are only 9.8k intensive care beds on the entire continent according to World Bank data, Reuters reports. At the projected height of the outbreak, the continent would need 121k beds at a bare minimum and a Reuters survey has found that an average of 12 covid-19 patients would be in line for every available bed, showing just how vulnerable African populations stand in the face of a full blown outbreak.

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